The Simple Joys of a Daily Walk

Rose in rainAndrea here, inspired by Anne’s recent post on “Simple Pleasures” I, too, have been thinking more about the small things in my everyday life that make me stop and smile, and appreciate my blessings.

I have a daily ritual of taking a long walk, usually in the late afternoon. I call it my plotting walk, as I use it to think about the pages I’ve written that day . . . and how to untangle any kinks that crept into the story or character development. It’s something I really look forward to, not only for story aspects, but because it’s also—quite literally—a breath of fresh air. After sitting in my writing room for hours, it resets my perspective. I’m a very visual person, and there is so much outdoors that catches my eye and reminds me of all the little unexpected beauties in the “ordinary.”

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How Stories Come to Life

AD horses book croppedAndrea here, musing about how my stories come to life. The Wenches were chatting the other day among ourselves about great teachers we had in school (look for that “Ask A Wench” blog on Wednesday!) and that’s what got me to thinking about it . . .

I have a very vivid memory of a school assignment that was my first “formal” introduction to the challenge of storytelling. It was sixth grade English class and our teacher gave each of us a random picture that he had cut out from old books and magazines—mine was a vintage engraving of a young Masai warrior facing down a ferocious lion—and told us to write a short story about

Granted, as a kid I had fooled around drawing crayon pictures and making up little vignettes about them. (And yes, I'm still a very bad speller!) But this demanded that I think of a real story—a beginning, a middle and an end. (I’m not sure my brain thought it through quite that clearly, but I do remember that the assignment really sparked my imagination.)

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An Interview with Tracy Chevalier

Tracy 3Last week I went up to London to interview international bestselling author Tracy Chevalier as part of the Romantic Novelists’ Association 60th anniversary celebrations. A number of people who weren’t able to get to the talk were interested in hearing about it, so I thought I would report back on it here as Tracy had so many fascinating things to say about books, reading, writing and art.

Tracy Chevalier was born in Washington DC, the daughter of  is best known for the book Girl with a Pearl Earring, which was made into a film in 2003. It’s based on the famous artwork of the same name by Dutch artist Vermeer, which hangs in the Mauritshuis in the Hague in Holland. As so much of Tracy’s writing life has been defined by art, we decided to base the interview around eight pieces of art or crafts that she chose to represent various aspects of her life, rather as Desert Island Discs does with music, and it proved to be a very interesting way to structure an interview.

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